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Arthroscopy. 2013 May;29(5):854-9. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2012.12.012. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Arthroscopic versus open tennis elbow release: 3- to 6-year results of a case-control series of 305 elbows.

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Teres Bergen, Bergen, Norway.



The purpose of this study was to compare the outcome of arthroscopic and open tendon release in tennis elbow (TE).


We compared the outcome of patients treated by an open tendon release in the period from 2002 to 2005 (n = 80) with that of patients treated by an arthroscopic release of the extensor carpi radialis brevis in the period from 2005 to 2008 (n = 225). In both groups the inclusion criteria were symptomatic TE refractory to conservative care for a minimum of 6 months and a clinical follow-up of at least 3 years. The diagnosis was based on a typical history and positive clinical findings. Patients with previous surgery in the elbow, chondral or osteochondral lesions, osteoarthritis, or free bodies were excluded. To have a similar follow-up period in the 2 groups (median, 4 years), the follow-up was conducted at 2 different time points.


The groups did not differ significantly with regard to the age of the patients, distribution of gender, distribution of affected side, duration of symptoms, or baseline score on the short version of Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire (QuickDASH). We did not observe any major complications. The failure rate was not significantly different between the 2 groups. At follow-up, the mean QuickDASH score was statistically significantly better (P = .004) in the arthroscopic group (11.6 points; SD, 15.6 points) compared with that in the open group (17.8 points; SD, 19.4 points). The percentage of elbows with an excellent outcome at follow-up (QuickDASH score <20 points) was significantly higher in the arthroscopic group (78%) than in the open group (67%) (P = .04).


Both a traditional open approach and the newer arthroscopic method provide an effective treatment of recalcitrant TE without major complications. The arthroscopic method offers a small, but not insignificant, improvement in the outcome as evaluated by the QuickDASH score.


Level III, therapeutic case-control study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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